Who is afraid of a kiss? Apparently a lot of people are, especially in England and Italy.
In October of last year, there was an incident in a Sainsbury market in Brighton where a security guard told a gay couple to leave because their PDA made another customer feel uncomfortable. The couple was shocked saying they had taken their liberty for granted in a town where acceptance of homosexual couples was quite high.
It turns out that the security guard was contracted by another company as Sainsbury employees reaffirmed their pro-diversity stance. Nonetheless, a kiss-in was staged at the market by a Sussex student union. Couples crowded the market waiting to “snog” as The Guardian put it. After the kissing ended, customers with their purchases in hand said that this had been one of the most pleasant shopping experiences they’ve ever had.
Fear of PDA reared its ugly head in London in the same month where a bus driver allegedly threw off a gay couple for kissing on his caravan. Headlines read, “Gay couple ‘thrown off London bus for kissing’ “. In all fairness, the title suggests that the customers were literally jettisoned off the bus before they arrived at their destination, which didn’t really happen–although the story might as well have been that for the disgusting way the bus driver spoke to this couple.
The story goes like this: a gay couple was riding the London bus, talking casually when one of the men leaned in for a little smooch. Then the bus driver yells out, “Oi you two, don’t do that on my fucking bus or you can get off. I don’t want to watch that”. The startled couple looked around to see who the bus driver could possibly be talking to. When the couple were ready to get off at their stop, they asked the driver if he was talking to them about their kiss. The bus driver replied, “Yes, it’s my bus. It is my rules, and I don’t want to watch that. It’s disgusting. Get off the bus”.
Needless to say the couple was fuming with anger. How could they be treated so vilely? But it didn’t stop there. The bus driver stopped again and yelled out to the couple, “You’re not real men and you should fuck off!”
London authorities apologized profusely for the incident explaining that all public transit riders should not fear being offended and abused while using London transit. A full investigation of the matter is underway.
But both of these stories were from 2014, and a lot has changed since, right? Oh no. PDA-phobia has made its way across the Thames and the Pyrenees into the heart of Italy, which is kind of ironic considering the Italian stereotypes of love and kissing and sharing spaghetti noodles. It seems that these activities are perfectly acceptable in public and in advertisements as long as the kissing couple is heterosexual.
On the cover of Italian Sportsweek’s most recent issue, a real-life, rugby-playing, gay-kissing couple is featured with the headline “Who is afraid of a kiss?”. Giacomo and Stefano play for Libera Rugby Club, the first gay-friendly rugby club in Italy. Sportsweek claims that their aim is to “confront the last taboo of homophobia in the sport” by using this cover. And the reception of this particular Sportsweek issue? As you might have imagined, it was a mixed bag. Here are some of the negative comments:
“painfully conformist and ideological”
“F*** off! What the f***?!”
And finally: “Tell me how I explain it to my 5-year-old son.”
I just have to comment on that last one: if you don’t know how you’d like to explain two men kissing to your children (whether you support it or not) you’re probably not ready to be a parent.
Anyway, Italy is actually the final country in western Europe to not offer legal recognition to same-sex couples, but parliament did pass a motion last month to promote the introduction of gay civil unions for the first time, which seems like a plan to make a plan, but hey, we’ll take it, right?
There are plenty more stories of the abuse and hate that same-sex couples endure for kissing in public. In fact, they don’t even have to kiss. There are even people in this world who indiscriminately condemn PDA from any couple, which just makes me sad for those people because there is nothing in the world more romantic than having a partner so consumed with their love for you that they can’t wait to be in private, can’t wait even one more second before kissing you. It’s one of the best feelings out there.